Myanmar violence: 20000 people seek refuge in China

Melba UnderwoodMar 10, 2017

China says more than 20,000 people from neighboring Myanmar have fled across the border into China after months of violence between ethnic rebel groups and government forces, including fighting this week that killed at least 30 people.

Hotel workers in Nan San, a town abutting Myanmar's restive Kokang region where the fighting is taking place, described disoriented people moving rapidly into the town.

Yang compared the scenes to those in 2015, when tens of thousands escaped fighting between the army and the predominantly ethnic Chinese Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) - the same group that attacked on Monday.

He said that all sides needed to find a peaceful solution through dialogue and urged restraint to "prevent further escalation" and "to restore peace and stability to the border areas". It came one day after MNDAA attacks in Laukkai-the administrative capital of the ethnic Kokang region of Shan State-left at least 10 dead.

Fierce gun battles, artillery strikes and fires rocked the town, prompting thousands to flee south or over the border into China.

"The situation in northern Myanmar relates to the peace and tranquillity of the China-Myanmar border", Geng had said on 8 March.

"According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher ... were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group", the state counselor's office said in statement posted on Facebook, according to Agence France-Presse.

Fighting has been ongoing in other areas of northern Shan State, where the Northern Alliance-to which the MNDAA, AA, TNLA and the Kachin Independence Army belong-and the Burma Army have clashed.

The area is in northeastern Shan state, which has seen repeated bouts of heavy fighting between the army and a band of well-armed ethnic minority militias since November, undercutting a government peace bid.

The attack follows on the heels of a meeting last week where the country's Nobel laureate de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged a delegation of ethnic armed groups to sign a cease-fire agreement and participate in peace talks.

Myanmar nationals from other parts of the country and Chinese who work in the city close to the border with China have been trying to return home to safety, they said.

The worsening conflict in the borderlands has raised tensions between Myanmar and Beijing.

"Residents in town are fleeing", an army officer told AFP.

The Ministry of Defense reported in their statement that Burma Army found 20 burned bodies of the MNDAA soldiers and 13 kinds of weapons including two RPGs and related ammunition.

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